International Day of Non-Violence

There are many causes that I am prepared to die for
but no causes that I am prepared to kill for. – Mahatma Gandhi

The word or the month for some reason triggers shades of white. Primarily as the world’s most renowned pacifist, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born in the month- a person, rather a phenomenon, whose mere name is a synonym for non-violence.

But as global warming makes temperatures rise a similar trend is observed in temperaments. The non-violence factor or let’s call it the NV factor is at a point when it’s witnessing the sharpest downward slope ever since its existence. Work pressures, academic stress, societal obligations, and the need to juggle them all together has taken us in a world where peace, compassion, and tolerance hold little value.

Ever pondered over this word – non-violence? Ever wondered how “non” is just prefixed to the root word violence. But etymology here clearly indicates that violence is the elder sibling of non-violence. It’s terrifying to believe that violence precedes peace. But scratch your brain a few moments longer. The origin of the world is attributed to the ultimate chaos better known as The Big Bang Theory. The theories of the origin of the State also mirror the same logic i.e. the theory of Force or the theory of the Divine Rights of the Kings. Hence, in order to propagate pacification, one must penetrateits roots i.e. violence. The end of violence is peace.

The most sensationalized version of violence is present before us in the form of the recent Gaza-Israel conflict. As the masses continue to blame Israel for the causalities – 69 % of which are civilians, there’s a deeper perspective to the picture and that is the role of the Hamas. The Hamas are the group governing Gaza at the moment whose very charter states destruction of the Jewish state of Israel. The battle of Israel is the battle of Jews continuing from the holocaust to today.

Let’s come back home – The riots and violence in the precarious region of Nawabi Lucknow. The sensitivity of the relationships between the Shias and the Sunnis is a sorry example in context of the processions associated with Azaadari . Communal violence in the form of riots have marred the the history of the city of Nawabs since 1908. The inkling that our traditions, our culture, our identity, our existence is threatened is enough to instigate violence.

Having treaded the path to violence how do we guide it to its destination- non-violence? After all, non-violence is the phoenix which rises from it’s ashes of violence. But the question is what do we need to boost the NV factor in our lives?

Security . Compassion . Tolerance . Mutual existence.

Every one of these aspect needs to be addressed, as there is large scale discord only when the fundamental needs of human beings are threatened.

Security of lives and livelihoods. Give man bread, butter, and a way to sustain the same. As Darwin theorised, Survival of the fittest, we need to ensure a world where one does not need to fight his own kind to survive and for this we need to ensure the basic need of everyone is met, that is the need for food, clothing and a roof to live under.

In the words of “the little brown saint”, as nicknamed by Martin Luther King Junior, compassion is a muscle which gets stronger with use. Three quarters of all disagreement and misunderstandings would disappear from the world, were we able to put ourselves in the shoes of our opponents and understand their views. Either we would come to an agreement with them or we would think charitably of them.

Tolerance is one of the main determinants of the NV factor. India is said to be an epitome of tolerance as it continues to prosper in light of the diversity which exists. We all house an India within us. Let’s open the doors to that corner of our being and let it illuminate our lives. Gandhi wrote: “There must be no impatience, no barbarity, no insolence, no undue pressure. If we want to cultivate a true spirit of democracy, we cannot afford to be intolerant. Intolerance betrays want of faith in one’s cause”

The same heart beats in each human’s chest. Let’s make the noise worthwhile and have it beat for each other. Let us understand that there is no identity bigger than humanity. And as a fitting tribute to the person who taught us to fight without violence, he emphasised on brotherhood, he visualised a country with unity, a Bharat where every citizen saw himself as a Bharatiya and after that anything else, let us all pledge to take the NV factor a notch up in our lives.

Aparajita Singh

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